Near or far away

‘Giving Up’ and ‘Giving Out’ are two important parts of Lent as we take up self-denial and works of charity. Along our Lenten journey at St Mary’s, we support women like Faith who is on the frontline of Climate Change and, through Christian Aid, has green fields and a hopeful future.


Each year at St Mary’s we pledge to give away at least 5% of our direct income to charitable causes at home and abroad.  We often excel this pledge by a substantial amount.  In 2019, for example, we gave away 15.5 % and even in the difficulties of the last year we still fulfilled our pledge.

Some of these charities are very close to home – for example, we recently set aside some charitable donations for the benefit of the Community in our home grown Wild Side project, and we hope that, once restrictions are lifted, we’ll be able to provide many opportunities and activities.

We have donated to the likes of Huggard, working with those who are homeless in our city, and Tiger Bay Boxing Club who do some amazing work with young people  We also give in other ways by donating food items each week to  Cardiff Foodbank and toiletry and other items for refugees, and for those who are homeless.

Looking further afield is also so important to us, and we have support a number of International Aid agencies including USPG and Christian Aid, which is our Lenten Charity this year.

Our Lenten ‘for the journey’ boxes contained many resources for Lent, including information about our Lenten Charity, and a Christian Aid offering envelope.

Despite separated by distance, we are all interconnected. The things we do and the way we live here can and does have an affect on people thousands of miles away.  Poorer communities in the world are often the ones most impacted by Climate Change, and the work that Christian Aid is doing in certain communities, is about helping people to support those on the frontline of the climate crisis – like Faith, for example.  Here’s her story which you can read more about on the Christian Aid Website:

Faith’s fields used to be dirt and dust. Ongoing drought in Kenya meant next to nothing grew. Water was scarce. Droughts are now more frequent and more intense there due to the climate crisis.  Without water Faith and her husband Steven couldn’t grow crops. Without crops they didn’t have enough to eat or sell. Hunger was a reality. Sending their children to school an impossibility.

People living in poverty are on the frontline of this climate crisis. They are losing food, water, homes and family. Every day, they walk further, dig deeper and build stronger to survive. They battle the worst of a crisis they did not create. This is unjust. But a better way is possible. This Lent and Easter we stand together with those on the frontline, like Faith, to fight for justice. Together we can stop this climate crisis.

But now Faith grows crops that are lush and green thanks to a nearby dam. Her local community got together to build the sand dam with the support of Christian Aid’s partner ADSE. The dam gives Faith’s community resilience in times of drought. A water source like this gives people like Faith a chance to not just survive, but thrive.

The dam gives Faith’s community resilience in times of drought. While the rains remain irregular, a dam means that when the rain does fall the community can collect every last drop. Because there is now water in Faith’s community, there is life. Faith’s hard work and determination has transformed this resource into a future for her family.

Faith said: ‘The sand dam has made me and my family happy because when it was not there, I was not able to plant anything. Now we can plant vegetables and water our trees. I hope that by the time my children grow I will have done a lot of things. I’ll do my best to educate my children and my children will be what they want to be when they grow up.’

“The weather has changed because when I was young, there was a lot of rain and food was plenty. Today the rains are very poor. There was also a lot of     livestock and today there are very few.”

Faith

Drought still remains a threat to Faith as the climate remains uncertain and unpredictable. It is unjust that people like Faith are battling the worst of a climate crisis they did not create. But for now, she at least has the tools she needs to adapt. With the dam, her fields stay green and her family has a hopeful future.” (Check out the full story here)

And so, towards the end of Lent, we will gather up the fruits of self deinal and charitable giving, and present them at the Mass on Maundy Thursday as we respond to Jesus’ Mandatum, to love one another as he has loved us.

Whilst COVID restrictions means that we cant include the ritual Washing of Feet at the Maundy Thursday Mass, our call to loving service remains

In the Diocese of Llandaff, Bishop June has also been encouraging people to partner with Christian Aid, giving thanks for their COVID vaccination. She says, “My hope is that people will give generously to the work of Christian Aid from a place of thanksgiving and a desire to see all people being able to live safely. Whether people can give just a few pounds or a much larger sum, it will be an opportunity to share hope and love with our brothers and sisters across the world who do not have the benefits we have.” You can read more here

We’re a few weeks into Lent and, by now, many of us may have been tempted to give up on ‘Giving Up.’ Whilst life may be difficult for us, we know we can make a real difference to people living, however near or far away.

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